S’mores and Spooky Stories: A Halloween MiddCORE Reunion

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The night was strangely warm for late October. Gusts of wind shook the last remaining leaves from the skeletal trees. The whole atmosphere seemed unsettled and unpredictable. Out of the darkness, the MiddCORE house glowed like a jack-o’-lantern, and flames danced in the old fireplace. You could not have asked for a better night or a better place for Halloween stories. Continue reading

Aquaponics in MiddCORE?

A MiddCORE Innovation Idea that is beginning to become a reality outside the classroom:

 What is MiddCORE all about?

To me, it is about discovering your passions and making your dreams a reality.  For Jessy Bradish, this was definitely the case.  As an MBA and Environmental Policy student at the Monterey Institute for International Studies, Jessy is fascinated with sustainable agriculture.  This past January, she participated in MiddCORE Monterey where she was the Innovation Challenge runner up with her idea for an aquaponics business model.

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What is aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a closed loop sustainable agriculture model that is organic, local, and it uses 95% less water than conventional agriculture farming.  As a resident of Monterey County, she saw the pressing issue of water waste and realized that 80% of California’s water consumption goes to conventional agriculture farming.  And this was something that Jessy was going to fix since water is so scarce where she lives.

AquaponicNitrogenCycleBlog Post katie and jessy

After developing her idea throughout MiddCORE and continuing research and prototyping, Jessy is now ready to see her next big idea come to life.  She recently won the Monterey Bay Regional Business Plan Competition and is ready to start her business model of aquaponic farming.

We can’t wait to see where Jessy’s incredible idea takes her next!

Jessy saw the issue of current farming practices in Monterey County and saw a solution to fix it.  What problems do you see in the community around you?  What big ideas do you have to fix them?

Watch Videos of MiddCORE in Action

Crisis Management

As part of the experiential learning that takes place at MiddCORE, students were handed the roles of upper management of Toyota during the accelerator crisis. Mentor Gary Holmes, Principal at Gary Holmes Communications LLC, helped the students craft their crisis management techniques and then put them into action. Take a look at what happened.

Idea Creation

MiddCORE participants have the opportunity to create their own innovation during MiddCORE, called the Innovation Challenge. The Innovation Challenge also encourages students to reach out to the mentors that hold workshops during the program. As part of the idea development process, Lisa Condino (Teaching Artist and Regional Coordinator of VSA Vermont) and EJ Bartlett (Creative Director of EJ Creative) held a prototyping and idea creation workshop that helped students understand their ideas in a physical way.

Social Entrepreneurship Challenge

During MiddCORE January ’13, students were tasked with a challenge related to social entrepreneurship. The challenges included food hubs, education in VT, and in this case, homelessness. Students evaluated the challenge at hand and proposed a comprehensive solution with the skills they had learned.

What Would You Do If …

You are the CEO of a car company that is all over the international news after its car floor mat is associated with an accelerator malfunction that causes a fatal car crash.

Would you recall the mats? What would the cost be? How would you handle the media frenzy?

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Or what if your international food product corporation was exposed for containing GMOs you had promised you never use? And what if the country in which the product was found had also sworn off GMOs in their food supply?

How would you regain the trust of your customers and the nation? Would you be able to thwart the efforts of the country to close down factories and halt production? What kind of impact would that have on the thousands of workers you employ there?

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These are the types of crises MiddCORE students are grappling with today and tomorrow. As they struggle to attend to all of the moving parts, which include the media, the stakeholders, and themselves, new developments and demands are constantly being made. We wish them luck as they present to journalists at a press conference, attend a mock congressional hearing, and release press statements to the world!

You Are the Instrument: Your Body, Your Voice

“You are the instrument: your body, your voice- and today is about tuning that instrument.” MiddCORE persuasive communication educator Mike Kiernan opens.

Today students worked to explore more of their natural style in persuasive communication. Working with text developed in the class, students examine the art of connecting: it is all about moving from Self-Consciousness to Other-Consciousness. Everything about the design and delivery of a presentation should be centered on an understanding of the perceptual apparatus and the psychological state of your listener.






We Create Impact Through Design


“At IDEO we create impact through design. I want you to experience the way IDEO works by doing it,”  Tom said.

Tom Raith, the Creative Director at IDEO, spent a day with MiddCORE students in Monterey brainstorming and re-framing the Fort Ord Social Challenge that the students there are focusing on for the month of MiddCORE.

Using the photos and quotes from the day in the field, the students covered the walls with sticky notes looking for impressions that stuck and recurrent behavioral models.  Were the stakeholders open, confrontational, or engaged?

Even before MiddCORE Monterey started on January 2nd, 17 students interviewed stakeholders about a connectivity challenge in the Fort Ord area.  The challenge had been framed around a connectivity issue; however, with Tom’s guidance, students started to reframe the question starting with three words: “How might we …?”

From there, students jumped to prototyping.

“This helps to scratch the ‘I think I know what the solution is’ itch,” Tom said. “It helps to test assumptions… At IDEO, we build to think and we think to build.”

At the end of the day one student asked, “What would IDEO do next with this challenge?”

Tom responded, “Given what we know, we’d design it.”

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